Are Canadians still willing to apply for a solo mortgage?

Report reveals homebuyer sentiment amid affordability struggles

Are Canadians still willing to apply for a solo mortgage?

Traditionally, buying a home has been seen as a joint effort, often requiring a spouse for financial backing.  However, a new survey by Point2 suggests this trend might be shifting.

The survey, which polled renters across different generations about their homeownership plans, found that a surprising 42% of respondents are considering applying for a mortgage by themselves. This figure outpaces all other options presented in the survey, including applying with a spouse or partner.

“Young adults and single people are starting to separate two ideas that truly seemed inseparable: Buying a home doesn’t necessarily mean they need to find a partner and get married, and getting or being married isn’t a prerequisite for home ownership,” Point2 wrote in the report.

Going solo

The willingness to go solo in homeownership is particularly pronounced among certain age groups. Gen X (ages 45-54) and Baby Boomers (55-64) show the highest propensity for individual mortgage applications, at 47% and 52% respectively. This suggests that older renters, who may have more established careers and savings, feel more confident in their ability to purchase a home independently.

Interestingly, younger generations are also embracing this trend. Many Gen Z (under 25) and younger Millennials (25-34) respondents preferred buying alone, prioritizing homeownership over traditional relationship milestones.

However, this shift towards solo homeownership comes against a backdrop of significant market challenges.

The survey identified high home prices as the primary hurdle for 39% of respondents, followed by concerns about down payments (27%). Despite these obstacles, the desire for homeownership remains strong across all age groups.

Gen Z respondents showed particular optimism, with 72% planning to buy within the next 12 months. Many in this group report having saved up to $30,000 for a down payment. Younger Millennials are slightly less bullish but still ambitious, with 57% aiming to buy within a year and 76% having saved up to $50,000.

Older Millennials (35-44) stand out as the only group still primarily considering joint homeownership, with 50% planning to apply for a mortgage with a spouse. They also express more concern about down payments (35%) than high home prices (34%), bucking the trend seen in other age groups.

Shifting norms

The growing willingness to apply for mortgages alone reflects broader cultural shifts.

Traditionally, buying a home was closely linked to marriage, but that connection is weakening. More Canadians live alone, with Statistics Canada reporting a rise in single-person households.

In 2016, one-person households became the most common household type in Canada, surpassing households with couples and children. The number of solo dwellers has more than doubled from 1.7 million in 1981 to 4 million in 2016, representing 14% of the population aged 15 and over.

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“Although some of the people living alone do so following a divorce or the death of their partner, most of the rise in the popularity of living alone can be attributed to shifts in preferences and societal norms,” the report said. “People — and especially young people — are changing their perspective on marriage and having a family, with some of them delaying this milestone to pursue education or career goals, and others foregoing it completely.”

However, this shift raises questions about the long-term implications for the housing market and personal finance. Single-income households may face greater challenges in affording homes, especially in high-cost markets.

It may also impact the types of homes in demand, potentially increasing interest in smaller properties or condominiums that are more manageable for single owners.

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